Weakest link in iMovie performance?

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by kepardue, May 6, 2009.

  1. kepardue macrumors 6502

    Oct 28, 2006
    I've got a 2.5 year old Macbook Pro. 2.2GHz, 4GB 667MHz DDR2 RAM, 5400RPM hard drive, but my video for iMovie (capture and editing) is on an external Firewire 400 1TB.

    I have a tape-based HD camcorder and, being one to like to be future proofed with my home video, capture at Full resolution instead of Large. Of course I see the message telling me that there may be playback performance problems, but I'd hate to come back in 3 or 4 years time and say, "Gee, now I wish I had captured that 20 hours of home video and run stabilization analysis in HD."

    So it captures at anywhere from 3/4 speed to 1/8 speed, but at least it captures. Playback, however, is in fact very jerky. Sometime in the coming year (hopefully when they release i7-based Macs) I'll be getting a new system, so I'm contemplating whether to get an iMac and get more power while cleaning off the clutter on the desk (external monitor) or get a Macbook Pro and get mobility. I don't really need the mobility since 95% of the time my Mac stays parked at my desk, but there's always that *one* time that I need to go show something off.

    But that said, do you guys think it's the 5400RPM hard drive causing the bottleneck (not sure if iMovie running from the internal is much of a factor), or more likely the FW400 external drive? I'd hate to get a brand new iMac only to be afflicted by the same issue. Am I just stuck waiting until I'm an old man and someone creates a 2TB SSD drive to be sold for $100?
  2. Consultant macrumors G5


    Jun 27, 2007
    Your computer probably only can do 3gb of ram due to age of the computer.

    Other limitations:
    - Approaching 3 year computer. You might need faster processor.
    - Firewire 400 is slower than SATA. (at least it's better than using usb 2). You shouold get esata card if you are going to get RAID.
    - Non RAID harddrive, you need RAID for HD source material.

    Not sure how you set up your scratch disk, but 5400 rpm drive could be an issue too.
  3. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    You should use "Activity Monitor" and watch while the computer is moving to slow for you.

    If the CPU is pegged out at 100% then it is the bottle neck and conversly if it is not pegged at near 100% then getting a faster processor will not help.

    Look at the number of "swap out" if it is moving and is close to the same number is the swap ins then you need more RAM

    If the disk I/O rate is close to what your disk can physically do then it is the limiting factor.
  4. Consultant macrumors G5


    Jun 27, 2007
    Good advice.

    For HD video it's likely the combination of everything I mentioned though.
  5. kepardue thread starter macrumors 6502

    Oct 28, 2006
    Excellent advice, all. Thanks so much for the feedback.

    Realizing the requirements for smooth HD video being a RAID setup, I suppose I should recognize that I should probably have imported my video at Large instead of Full quality. Just kinda hard to not pull video footage from a couple of years ago of one's 90 year old grandmother at Full quality, ya know?

    I'll definitely check the Activity Monitor this evening to see if I can spot the bottleneck that way, but if it looks like it's not the processor I may try getting a FW800 drive first.

    Heck, the low end current Macbook Pro is only 2.4GHz, that's just 200MHz faster than what I have now. I suppose it's using a newer architecture though.
  6. RedTomato macrumors 68040


    Mar 4, 2005
    .. London ..
    Something's wrong. Playback shouldn't be jerky, and certainly not with your system.

    iMovie HD came out years ago and could playback HD on the imacs and macbooks of its time. Your MBP is a speed beast compared to the typical mac user base when iMovie HD came out.

    Check you have the right settings.
  7. kepardue thread starter macrumors 6502

    Oct 28, 2006
    I'll also add that I just reformatted this system.

    And also, iPhoto is pretty slow to repsond (grant it I have about 25,000 pictures in my library). Clicking on Faces or Places often takes between 8-15 seconds for it to shift. Faces on the corkboard seem to load in pretty slowly, looking like pixelated low res versions before the full versions show up. I was thinking that that may be attributed to the 5400rpm hard drive as well.

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